Microsoft 365 E3 or E5: What Is the Right Plan for Your Organization?

Makayla Mota

In the realm of productivity software, Microsoft 365 maintains its position as the leading business solution with over 1 million companies worldwide utilizing this cloud-based suite of applications.

However, Microsoft provides various types of 365 plans—each tailored to offer distinct benefits that adapt to evolving business requirements. Determining the correct Microsoft plan for your organization can be a daunting endeavor. The correct plan can affect the overall productivity, efficiency, and security—so making the correct choice is crucial to your business. Among the most popular subscription options are Microsoft 365 E3 and E5. While both offer productivity advantages, E5 boasts a more comprehensive feature set.

E3 and E5 Feature Breakdown

Both E3 and E5 provide access to an essential suite of productivity apps, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, and Teams. These apps simplify collaboration amongst employees regardless of their location, creating seamless efficiency and productivity whether your users are in-office, hybrid, or remote. Both plans also offer SharePoint, OneDrive, and Exchange, ensuring smooth file sharing, storage, and email administration.

Security and Compliance

Security is a primary concern for any organization, and this is where E5 truly outshines E3 licensing. E3 includes fundamental security features—such as multifactor authentication (MFA) and data loss prevention—but E5 takes it up a notch by also providing advanced threat protection, intelligent security management, and supplementary compliance features like customer lockbox, privileged access management, and advanced eDiscovery. Microsoft’s security and compliance solutions evolve continuously to combat emerging threats, rendering E5 an optimal selection for organizations with heightened security requirements.  

Advanced Analytics and AI

Another big factor in today’s business world is access to analytics and the latest in AI technology. Microsoft 365 E5 offers both analytical capabilities and AI tools that are absent from the E3 package. Power BI Pro, a dynamic data visualization tool, empowers your staff to derive insights for data-informed decision-making. E5 also delivers sophisticated AI functionalities, including MyAnalytics and Workplace Analytics, providing valuable insights into productivity and collaboration patterns throughout your organization. Leveraging these capabilities can optimize your team’s efficiency and optimize performance.

Pricing Breakdown

A big factor in making your final decision is understanding the differences in pricing structure between Microsoft 365 E3 and E5. Microsoft 365 E3 costs $36 per user/month, while Microsoft 365 E5 comes in at $57 per user/month. While it does seem like a big jump, the inclusion of additional security, compliance, analytics, and AI features may justify the investment for your organization. 

It’s also possible to customize Microsoft 365 licenses within your organization to suit your requirements. This flexibility enables you to allocate a suitable plan to users depending on their individual needs and responsibilities, ensuring that you only invest in the features necessary for each user. This strategy can prove cost-efficient since you have the option to provide advanced features available in the E5 plan to users who require them, while assigning the more economical E3 plan to others who may not need all the additional functionalities of the E5 plan. Connection’s Microsoft Landscape Optimization (MLO) assessment allows you to gain insight into your current IT environment through a series of workshops, helping you determine the correct and most cost-effective licensing for your organization.

Should You Change Plans?

For businesses contemplating streamlining their software infrastructure, experiencing substantial growth, or transitioning to a permanent remote or hybrid work setup, migrating to Microsoft 365 E5 is a logical choice.

With Microsoft 365 E3 and E5, features and functionalities are integrated within a unified ecosystem. This simplifies team communication and enhances workflow efficiency. Microsoft 365 E5 enhances the E3 experience by introducing user-friendly collaboration tools like Teams Phone and a comprehensive security framework. The outcome is productivity bolstered by proactive security measures. While making the correct decision for your organization may appear daunting, Connection is ready to assist with planning, designing, deploying, and managing these products and solutions, ensuring your Microsoft licensing is the optimal fit for your needs. Contact your Account Team anytime for help!

Makayla Mota is a Partner Marketing Specialist at Connection with a background in educational technology training on Microsoft solutions in the classroom. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family, antiquing, hiking, and watching movies.